POS 125 - State and Local Government

Course Syllabus

Instructor Information | Course Information | Course Materials

Course Activities and Design | Grading and Evaluation | Course Policies

Instructor Information

Instructor: Jason Stilwell 

Contact Information:

Email: jason.stilwell@csun.edu

Instructor Accessibility: Please do not hesitate to e-mail me with any questions you may have. I can also be reached at the phone number above if you are unable to access e-mail. If you ask me to call you back, please include days and times best to call you, along with your full name and a phone number.

E-mail will be responded to as promptly as possible, usually within twenty-four hours from Monday-Friday. Weekend response times may be longer. Please use the course e-mail system to contact me unless otherwise instructed. This helps keep me organized and responding to you as quickly as possible. Please put the appropriate subject of your message in the subject line (e.g., Quiz 4 question; discussion grading question). If you use my personal e-mail please put the course and section number in the subject line (i.e., POS125 C11). Make sure that you also include your full name.

Back to Top

Course Information

Course Title: State and Local Government

Course Description: This course is a study of structure and function of state, county, and municipal governments including their relations with each other and with national government. Colorado government and politics are emphasized.

Credit Hours: This course carries 3 semester credits. You can normally expect to put in 8-10 hours per week on this course.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for this course.

Student Outcomes:

This course will provide to student with the opportunity to analyze background and structure of State and Local Government.

The student successfully completing this course should be able to:

  1. Identify and evaluate state and local government capacity.
  2. Analyze theoretical, historical and legal background of American Federalism.
  3. Examine the intergovernmental relations and models of federalism.
  4. Examine the evolution of state Constitutions and be able to identify their weaknesses and reform efforts.
  5. Examine the types of local governments.
  6. Identify the principles of state and local finance.
  7. Examine the nature of public opinion, political socialization, changes in American demography, methods of measuring public opinion, and the media's impact on public opinion.
  8. Analyze the roles and structures of the party system and evaluate the development of the American two party system.
  9. Identify the types, functions, and operations of interest groups in the American political system.
  10. Examine the purpose and process of the American electoral system.
  11. Describe and evaluate the structure, powers and functions of state legislative bodies.
  12. Describe and evaluate the structure, powers and functions of the governors.
  13. Describe and evaluate the structure, powers and functions of the Judicial System.
  14. Describe and evaluate the structure, powers and functions of the State Bureaucracy.
  15. Identify the interrelations among the three branches of the state government.
  16. Describe and evaluate the content of selected policies in economic development, education, criminal justice, poverty, social welfare, and protection of the environment.
Back to Top

Course Materials

Required Textbook:

 State and Local Government, 7th Edition, 2008. Ann O'M. Bowman and Richard C. Kearney; ISBN: 0618 77089 5, Houghton-Mifflin.

Your primary resource is the text. Be sure you have the 7th Edition. I recommend you spend some time looking over the text to see how it is laid out and the kinds of aids that the authors include. As you have undoubtedly noticed there is a lot of reading and much information to absorb in college. My suggestion is to skim the textbook information to become familar with it, then read it more thoroughly while we are in the unit. As we work our way through the course, I recommend that the majority of your time be spent reading the text. If you have questions, please ask me about them. My primary recommendation on how to be successful in this course is to READ THE TEXT.

Textbook Web Site:

(Available as Text Web Site on the Course Menu) http://college.hmco.com/polisci/bowman_kearney/state_local_gov/7e/student_home.html. The website can be accessed directly from Text Web Site on the Navigation Bar on the left of your screen. The site features ACE Practices Tests, the Evolution of Devolution timeline, chapter flashcards, chapter outlines, a fact-filled U.S. map, and more. You will find this to be a valuable resource!


Back to Top

Course Activities and Design

Course Outline (see Course Schedule for Due Dates and Unit assignment pages for specific assignments):

Course Outline
Unit 1 Chapters 1-5
Unit 2 Chapters 6-9
Unit 3 Chapters 10-13
Unit 4 Chapters 14-18

Participation and Interaction:

This is not a self-paced course: Do not procrastinate. The weeks will go by very quickly. If you wait you will find it hard to catch up and difficult to make the due dates. The class is very do-able. You will be taking tests, and interacting with me and other students though your threaded discussions and assignments, but even with all of that, this course can easily be completed in the time scheduled.

Participation in Discussions is Critical:
A significant portion of your course grade will be based on your participation in discussions for every unit. Please see Discussion Grading (below) for detailed information on how your participation will be graded.

Communications About Difficulties/Absences:
It is your responsibility to contact me in a timely manner if you become ill, or have scheduling or computer problems that would keep you from participating in a discussion for an entire week.

Keep a Copy of All E-mail:
Be sure to save copies of all e-mails you send me (the Outbox in WebCT will do that automatically; just don't delete them). I also suggest you save my responses to your e-mails.

Grading and Evaluation

Summary of Grading: Evaluation includes a combination of discussion participation, quizzes, essays and exams.

For each of the chapters you will be required to complete an online quiz. You may re-take these quizzes as many time as you wish. There is no time limit on taking a quiz. This part of the course is open book and its purpose is to help you concentrate on the information being presented in the text. You may find these automated quizzes don't always score accurately. The instructor will verify the scores to assure the computer scores students' tests correctly and make grade adjustments to the students' gradebooks if the computer is in error.

Each exam consists of 3 parts: Multiple Choice Questions, True False Questions, and Short Answer Questions. There is a 55 minute time limit for completing the exam. On the Multiple Choice questions, be sure to pick the best answer from those available. Also, be sure to answer the complete question on the Short Answer questions.

The exam requires you to demonstrate your understanding of the terms, concepts, and information presented in the unit. Questions for the exam will primarily come from information presented in the textbook; however, certain exam questions will draw on information from the unit's lecture and related material.

Exam Instructions are available to assist you in taking exams, submitting your results, and getting technical assistance.

There will be one essay question required in each unit. Unlike the quizzes, in this section you will have to do some of the thinking and put together reasoned and complete responses to the questions posed.

Yes, I will grade these for content and the proper use of grammar. It is important you provide content to support your assertions and to answer the essay questions as thoroughly and completely as possible. As college students you should strive to have a strong grasp of English grammar. Part of a complete education is improving your communication skills. Strong grammar skills are a positive byproduct of a college education and something that distinguishes you from others.

Complete your essay questions in a word processing application, save as a Rich Text Format (.rtf) file, and then submit them to me through the Assignment Dropbox. (See Submitting Assignments for instructions on using the Assignment Dropbox.)

Essays may be written using your textbook for reference. I will grade these essays in the following manner:

1. Length: 1 - 3 pages (more than one page but less than 3). [Font size 10 or 12; single spaced; 1" margins]

2. Grammar: correct use of grammar, referencing, punctuation, and spelling. See the document entitled "Bare Basics of Writing" in this course's Resources section.

3. Format: at the top of the page put your name, date, POS 125, the unit and assignment number, and follow this with the question you are responding to.

4. Content: relevance of answer, depth of answer, and clarity of answer.

Discussion is a required element of this course. In an online environment, discussion is our "classroom."

I will pose questions and expect all of you to respond to the discussion as we go along. I will frequently respond to keep the discussion focused on the question at hand, respond to a particular point, or ask additional questions for clarification or further class response.

You will be graded on your level of participation as well as the content of your comments, including your responses to the question(s) posed, and use of textbook material to support your comments; I'm not asking for the full quotes and citation format simply something that ties what you have learned in the readings into what you have learned in your other experiences.

I expect you to post once to the original question, and then at least once to a classmate's posting. I will look for the following in your discussion posts:

Discussions are designed to create a dialogue between students. As such it is important discussions are posted in regular intervals and not only at the end of the unit. You must post a discussion on at least two different days. A discussion posted on the final two days of the unit will not be counted as it prohibits the opportunity of your classmates to read and comment on the posting.

You will be graded on participation and the quality of your responses. I will post your grade after we finish a discussion. I anticipate that we will have approximately 8 discussions (not counting the Student Introductions discussion) throughout this semester.

Discussion will be worth up to 25 points each (50 per unit), with grading based on this scale:

Web Site Extra Credit
If you find some web sites useful for the study of Political Science at any time during the semester, please submit them to your instructor by e-mail.

Additional extra credit will be available in each unit. See Unit Assignments for details.

CCCOnline Plagiarism Policies are adhered to in this course. Ask your instructor or click here if you do not know what is or is not plagiarism.

Grading Scale:

Grade Equivalent
927 - 1030
824 - 926
721 - 823
618 - 720
617 or fewer


Quizzes 18 Chapter Quizzes @ 5 points each
Essays 4 Essay Questions @ 100 points each
8 Discussions @ 25 points each
Exams 4 @ 85 points each
Total Points
1030 points


Back to Top

Course Policies

Mutual Respect in CCCOnline Communications: A very important aspect of online learning is respectful communication. The CCCOnline Learning Community is based on the value of mutually respectful communication. Upon enrolling in programs in CCCOnline, students assume responsibility for respectful communications with other students and with course instructors, including communications which do not disrupt the online environment. The CCCOnline Student Handbook includes a definition of disruptive communications and their consequences. Please visit the CCCOnline.org website to view the handbook.

Disruptive Communications

• communications which disrupt the learning environment
• use of profanity and/or insulting or harassing remarks in email, discussions, chat or telephone communications.

A student who participates in disruptive communications forfeits the right to further class participation and is subject to removal from all CCCOnline courses for the given term without reimbursement by CCCOnline. A student who is suspended more than once for disruptive communications forfeits the right to further enrollments at CCCOnline.

Late Work: Late Assignments will not be accepted unless prior arrangements have been made with the instructor.

Incomplete Grades: The "Incomplete" grade is a temporary grade indicating that the student has a satisfactory record of work completed but, for exceptional reasons, was unable to complete the final assignments. If circumstances beyond your control prevent you from completing an assignment at the end of the term, consult your instructor, immediately. The instructor will determine whether you have a reasonable chance of satisfactorily completing the remaining activities without online access to course materials. Your instructor must work out a way for you to complete the course without benefit of the course Web site. The "Incomplete" grade is designed for students who, because of documented illness or circumstances beyond their control, are unable to complete their course work within the semester but have completed a majority of the course work (75-85% of the course assignments and tests) in a satisfactory manner. The student is responsible for initiating the request for an "Incomplete" grade from the instructor. In requesting an "Incomplete" grade, the student should email the instructor the following information for evaluation: Documentation of Circumstances: Evidence of completion of 75-85% of the semester course work.

A Work-Completion Plan Needs to Include the Following:

  • What and how assignments and tests will be submitted to complete the course.

  • The time period in which the work must be completed, not to exceed 15 weeks from the end of the on-line semester.

  • The grade to be assigned if the work is not completed.

  • Both the instructor and the student must acknowledge this written email and keep a copy of the acknowledgment as documentation.

  • NOTE: You are encouraged to let me know as soon as possible if you are having difficulties with any part of the course. At no time will the "Incomplete" grade be used as entrance into another current or future course section for completion of the work. In the unlikely event that you and I cannot reach some resolution, please contact the Vice President of Instruction.

    Academic Integrity: Plagiarism is the act of using words and/or ideas from another person or source without acknowledgment of debt to that person or source and is a serious academic crime. Students are expected to do their own work. Students are expected to follow the Academic/Plagiarism policies of their Home College (available in your college catalogue).

    Special Services: If you have a learning or physical disability that will require special accommodation, please notify your instructor immediately upon enrollment.

    Notice of Nondiscrimination: CCCOnline is an equal-opportunity educational institution and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, sex, or sexual orientation. Reasonable accommodations will be provided upon request for persons with disabilities. For more information, contact the Office of College Support Services at 1-800-801-5040 or the Student Services office of your home college.

    End of Semester: You will be able to access the class for one week after the end of the semester. However, the last day to turn in any work is the last day of the semester. The extra week of access is only to check your grades.

    Disclaimer: With the exception of the stated competencies for this course, this syllabus may be altered during the semester by the instructor as the learning environment requires.

    Back to Top